The Technology Strategy Board has announced that the UK-wide consortium bid from Carbon Trust, National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) and Ocean Energy Innovation has been selected to play a central role in setting up the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.

The centre will establish its primary location in Glasgow, alongside a number of organisations with complementary interests in the International Technology and Renewable Energy Zone (ITREZ) with the operational centre in the North East of England (Northumberland) close to Narec. It will receive up to £10m per annum over five years (£50 million) from the Technology Strategy Board.

The new Catapult will focus on technologies applicable to offshore wind, tidal and wave power. It will also build strong links with centres of excellence, such as the European Marine Energy Centre, Wave Hub, and the recently announced marine energy park in the South West of England.

The Catapult centre will bring together knowledge, expertise and state of the art facilities to help UK businesses innovate and find new ways to capture and use the power from offshore renewable energy sources. UK businesses engaging with the centre will be able to reduce the risk associated with creating profitable products and services. The centre is expected to focus on areas such as:

  •     establishing a sustainable supply chain for the more established offshore wind sector in the UK;
  •     developing capabilities in marine power (tidal and wave) that will help UK business bring new products to market and export new technologies.

The applicable global market for wind, tidal and wave is expected to exceed £64 billion by 2050. The UK is in a strong position to take a significant share of these global markets. The biggest opportunity being to help the UK to gain 12% of the established offshore wind industry, which is the largest of the three. The market share opportunity for the UK in both tidal and wave will be 15%.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said:

“The UK’s reputation and expertise in offshore engineering, gained through many years of commercial North Sea oil activity, makes the UK an excellent base for innovation relevant to the emerging offshore renewable energy sector.

“The generation and supply of renewable energy is now a major component of global energy and economic policies. UK businesses have an opportunity to be a significant part in this global industry.”

Business Secretary, Vince Cable said:

“Our offshore renewable sector can compete on a global scale and has huge potential for growth. If we can harness that we will generate billions of pounds for the economy whilst creating thousands of job opportunities at the same time.

“It is vital we invest in renewable energy now to gain maximum benefits in the future. In creating this centre we are taking the next step to transforming the UK into a low carbon economy.”

Speaking on behalf of the consortium, Andrew Mill, CEO of NAREC said:

“The partnership between Carbon Trust, Narec and Ocean Energy is ideally placed to lead industrial innovation in offshore renewables. We will capitalise on the UK’s offshore engineering heritage and deployment expertise, and exploit our world leading technology development capabilities and infrastructure to effectively support growth businesses and a growing cluster of multinationals moving to the UK.”

The Catapult, expected to open for business in the summer of 2012, may also advise the UK government on its renewable energy policies. The UK announced its Renewable Energy Strategy in July 2009, which outlines how 15% of energy generated in the UK will come from renewable sources by 2020.

The announcement from the Technology Strategy Board is another milestone in its journey to establish the new network of Catapults. The Catapult centre initiative represents a long-term commitment and will enable UK businesses to compete in global markets worth billions. Scientists, engineers and business innovators will be able to pool expertise, intelligence and experience on a national scale and make a significant contribution to our economy.

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